Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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I'll get around to The Kitchen, too. My wife and I have both read the GN, so it's inevitable.

Skate Kitchen wasn't bad, either.

THE WATCHMEN: Inspired by the TV show, we re-watched the movie over the weekend. I think it’s one of the best comic book adaptations out there.

KING DINOSAUR (MST3K): We don’t own a lot of MST3K on DVD, but we found a set still in shrink wrap at HPB over the weekend. We’ve watched only this one so far. Never seen this one before. It’s a pretty ”good” one.

Wow, guys -- if you get a chance while it's in theaters, see Parasite, the new movie from Bong Jun-Ho. Set in South Korea, it starts out as members of a poor family scam their way into jobs working for a rich one, one after the other (without letting them know they're related). And then...WHOA. It takes you on a journey. Great movie, and I don't want to give away more right now.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

THE WATCHMEN: Inspired by the TV show, we re-watched the movie over the weekend. I think it’s one of the best comic book adaptations out there..

I'm always puzzled when people say that the Watchmen movie was bad.The only thing bad was the timing of its release and the failure of the advertising campaign.

CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (MST3K): I’ve said before that the source movies of MST3K send-ups should have some semblance of quality. King Dinosaur (above), for example, at least tried to be a good sci-fi flick. That makes it easy to make fun of. But the Castle of Fu Manchu has no semblance of quality whatsoever. Eventually, Joel and the ‘bots stop trying and their jokes devolve into how difficult it is to make jokes about so bad of a movie. In one of the host segments, they are actually reduced to tears because the source movie is so bad. At one point, Joel challenges the Mads to try their job, which they do and fail miserably. The host segments were the only redeeming feature of this mess.

CODE NAME: DIAMONDHEAD (MST3K): This one features a short, “A Day at the Fair,” which is as entertaining as the main features (as the shorts often are).

LAST OF THE WILD HORSES (MST3K): This episode is based around the “theme” of the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Star Trek in which “evil” Tom Servo is shunted into our universe, and “good” Forrester and Frank are captives aboard the SOL in the mirror universe. In one sequence, Forrester and Frank make the jokes from the theater. A nice twist for an otherwise forgettable movie.

VIEW FROM THE TOP: This is not an MST3K movie but it should be. It’s a predictable 2003 rom-com starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo in the leads, plus Christina Applegate, Candice Bergen, Rob Lowe, and Mike Myers. I watched it in anticipation of reading Ayoade on Top.

(The clip is five minutes long.)


Jeff of Earth-J said:

CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (MST3K): I’ve said before that the source movies of MST3K send-ups should have some semblance of quality.... But the Castle of Fu Manchu has no semblance of quality whatsoever.

Director Jesus Franco has a kind of cult following. I think his fans see him as a director of auteur trash. I don't think I've ever seen one of his films.

I think the rap against Watchmen is that it's such a faithful reproduction of the comic book that it fails to be a very good movie. I haven't seen it since it first came out, and don't remember my own reaction. 

Richard Willis said:

Jeff of Earth-J said:

THE WATCHMEN: Inspired by the TV show, we re-watched the movie over the weekend. I think it’s one of the best comic book adaptations out there..

I'm always puzzled when people say that the Watchmen movie was bad.The only thing bad was the timing of its release and the failure of the advertising campaign.

I've always been predisposed to want movie and TV adaptations to be as close as possible to the book or comic book, based on the hope that viewers will discover the original work.. 

I just watched Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), and it's really extraordinary. Renée Maria Falconetti gives one of the best performances I've ever seen, largely through her eyes. The film has a lot of extreme close-ups, with quick cuts, skewed angles and off-center framing, making it feel very modern. And in a sense, the film was a reaction to current events: Joan of Arc had only been named a saint eight years before, in 1920. The score that was shown with it on TCM, Richard Einhorn’s 1995 oratorio Voices of Light, was written explicitly for the film, and the libretto features words of both feminist and misogynist writers from medieval times. The score also features church bells rung in the village of Joan's birth.

This is well worth seeing if you get the chance.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

THE WATCHMEN: Inspired by the TV show, we re-watched the movie over the weekend. I think it’s one of the best comic book adaptations out there.

Richard Willis said:

I'm always puzzled when people say that the Watchmen movie was bad. The only thing bad was the timing of its release and the failure of the advertising campaign.

Captain Comics said:

I think the rap against Watchmen is that it's such a faithful reproduction of the comic book that it fails to be a very good movie. I haven't seen it since it first came out, and don't remember my own reaction. 

Richard Willis said:

I've always been predisposed to want movie and TV adaptations to be as close as possible to the book or comic book, based on the hope that viewers will discover the original work.. 

I think anyone inclined to discover the original work will do so whether or not the movie or TV adaptation is as close as possible to the book or comic book.

So the more important consideration for me, more and more, isn't "Is this a slavish reproduction of the comic book/book/play/original source?", but "Is it a good movie/TV show?"

The late William Goldman's books Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade -- which I highly recommend -- give plenty of insight into movie scriptwriting and filmmaking. One thing that is very clear: What works in one medium may or may not work in a different one, and you've got the let the movie play to its strengths.

In other words, as Cap said, "I think the rap against Watchmen is that it's such a faithful reproduction of the comic book that it fails to be a very good movie."

I re-watched Hitchcock's The 39 Steps recently. It's an interesting case, a mix of faithful copy of the book and wholly new stuff. The romance and the Mr Memory element were created for the movie, but the rest of the plot - someone is murdered in Hannay's apartment, he heads for Scotland hoping to clear himself, he's hunted there by the police and spies - is right out of it.

The 1959 version was a remake of Hitchcock's. The 1978 version restored the original setting, put in a different romance and an assassination plot, and changed the climax. In the book's Big Ben plays no role.

In the book the person murdered in Hannay's apartment is a man. Hitchcock made the victim a woman. The 1978 version restored his original sex but instead had him killed in a railway station. The sequence looks modelled on the death of Townsend in North by Northwest.

Does anyone else out there remember Ripping Yarns? I think "Winfrey's Last Case" was a parody of the 1978 version. The film has a text bit at the end explaining that thanks to Hannay "Britain gained valuable time to prepare for the Great War". In "Winfrey's Last Case" the characters talk of the Germans scheming to start the war a year early.

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